Indigestion Help Sheet
Most of us will have eaten 40% more food than we need over the holiday season- and many people overeat all year round….. resulting in chronic indigestion. Indigestion covers various symptoms from a cramping feeling in the stomach, to heartburn, wind, belching and even pain in the bowel. It is usually a sign that the digestive system is having difficulty coping with food, and this is frequently due to a lack of stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the small intestine. The problem can be made worse if you eat too quickly and don’t chew food thoroughly. Overeating, drinking to excess, eating poor food combinations or eating when stressed all exacerbate indigestion.
Foods to Avoid:
Generally reduce your intake of sugar and sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and rich puddings. Red meat and fatty cuts of meat are hard to digest- especially when eaten at night. Avoid all fried foods and hard cheeses which are hard to digest. Coffee, tea, chocolates caffeine in any form, alcohol, peppers, citrus fruits onions and sometimes garlic can be difficult to digest. Salt hinders digestion and assimilation of proteins, cut down on sodium based salts. Don’t drink too much liquid with meals as this dilutes your stomach acid which you need to digest your meal. Avoid fruit immediately after a large meal, unless it’s a small chunk of pineapple or papaya. Avoid as much as possible rich, creamy foods and heavy puddings like Xmas pudding. Avoid antacids which neutralise stomach acid – the very substance you need to digest your meals. Many people with indigestion have problems digesting wheat. For one week Try Ryvita low salt crisp breads, rice cakes and amaranth crackers. A/v from health shops.
One of the best ways to ease indigestion, is to give your digestive system- and thus your liver and bowel a little rest. The best way to do this is to eat only fruit for breakfast for one week, and only eat fresh vegetables (in soups) and a little fish with vegetables. Drink plenty of water, herbal teas and make fresh vegetable juices with root ginger, apple, aloe vera and organic carrots. This way of eating for a few days should help ease most of your symptoms and then eat lighter meals generally. Drink some ginger or dandelion root tea with or before meals to stimulate digestion. Small meals made from whole foods and small quantities of meat or fish are much easier on the digestion. Try eating small amounts of pineapple or papaya before a meal which contain enzymes which can enhance digestion. Add more fresh root ginger to foods as it is very calming . If you like beans and pulses but they give you wind, then cook them with a strip of Kombu seaweed which helps to pre-digest the beans. Eat more live, low fat yoghurts.
Betaine hydrochloride (stomach acid) 1 capsule with main meals. If you have active stomach ulcers or the HCl causes a burning sensation then take a digestive enzyme instead. Deglycerrized liquorice 1 – 2 tablets chewed before a meal soothes any symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. Acidophilus, bifidus are healthy bacteria which encourage better digestion and elimination. Take 1 – 2 capsules at the end of a meal. Sip peppermint tea after meals All the above are a/v from health stores.
Sit down and eat food in a relaxed setting. Go for a ten minute walk after eating to aid digestion. Eat fruit in- between meals and avoid fruits that you know are a problem such as oranges and grapefruits. Don’t eat if you are stressed or really upset. Sometimes when people suffer indigestion it is because they are unable to digest some information or something going on in their lives in which case it would be worth seeing a homoeopath who may be able to resolve the underlying issues. Try the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica 30c which helps reduce the incidence of indigestion. Drinking more than 5 cups of coffee daily can reduce fertility in women by a third – but don’t use as an alternative contraceptive !